In recent years, breast-feeding has become quite stylish which really is a good thing. All reputable health practitioners will tell you that the ideal way to feed a baby is by supplying what a woman’s body makes naturally and that is breast milk.
Now with elder child, back in the early 90’s, there were no national campaigns to get more women breast-feeding, in fact he was probably 3 when I actually saw a real live woman nursing a baby. Needless to say elder boy was fed formula, I don’t feel bad at all about that choice. Why? I had him when I was 19 and did the best I could.
That said, in 2004 when I got pregnant with my daughter I was older and wiser and figured I would at least try breast-feeding. I will be honest and say initially I only thought it would be for a few weeks but it went on much longer, I won’t disclose specifics but will say that the modern day lactivists and La Leche League would be impressed. Especially since rates of breast-feeding are lower for Black women.
However in the 3.5 years since mini-me arrived earth-side, I have been stunned to learn the lengths that some women will go to provide breast milk rather than formula. Truthfully aside from a few uncomfortable weeks, I was fortunate that breast-feeding was relatively easy and that I produced enough milk to nourish and sustain my girl. Yet for some women, breast-feeding is an ordeal. Now many women when faced with the knowledge that their bodies are unable to produce enough milk will generally shift to formula but for a smaller number who believe in the magic of breast-milk (and it is magical in its own way). They will go to any length to keep formula from their kids and honestly at times its scary at least to me.
In recent years we have seen the rise of milk banks, if you think I am crazy just google breast milk for sale. Seems the going rates for breast milk range from $1.75 an ounce to $3 an ounce. Um, babies drink a lot of milk, so as you can imagine buying someone else’s milk can get costly rather quickly especially if you can’t get your insurance company to pay for it.
Now at milk banks, all donated milk is tested and deemed safe before it travels to the buyer, ok…that’s cool. Yet for an even smaller group of women, who cannot afford these rates, they will post on discussion boards or chat-rooms that relate to breastfeeding seeking donations of milk from other mothers.
I am going to probably sound a tad insensitive but truthfully that is just crazy to me. Seriously, the idea of asking some internet stranger to give me their breast-milk to feed to my child just ranks up there with shit I would not do. I don’t know you and chances are if I can’t afford to get the safe shit from the bank, I am guessing that when you get some milk off a stranger, that milk is not tested. From what I hear women in this boat will just ask the woman doing the offering whether or not she is safe and has been tested for diseases/STD’s and if she says yes, its a go. Now some women will ask for documentation, but honestly that shit just seems riskier than feeding the baby some Similac or whatever is out there for formula.
Look, we all want what is best for our kids and while breast-milk is the best, I am sorry but getting milk off some stranger is not cool.
That said, in these tough economic times, maybe women with an abundance of breast milk should undercut the milk bank and charge $1-2 an ounce, there are crazier ways to make a buck.